One of the largest-ever searches that went to 100,000 galaxies for signs of suspicious infrared or advanced extraterrestrial life activity has found…NOTHING.
Using NASA’s WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) satellite, the researchers were looking for energy signatures that would suggest the use of advanced alien technology somewhere else in the Universe but they returned empty-handed. According to lead researcher, Jason T. Wright, an astrophysicist at Penn State University in the US,in a press release.
The idea behind our research is that, if an entire galaxy had been colonised by an advanced spacefaring civilisation, the energy produced by that civilisation’s technologies would be detectable in mid-infrared wavelengths – exactly the radiation that the WISE satellite was designed to detect.”
It sounds a little funny, but the physics is solid. According to ScienceAlert, if a clever alien society has worked out how to harness the energy from its galaxy’s stars and is using it to power technology, such as space flight, communication, or something beyond what we can imagine, then we should be able to detect it.
Fundamental thermodynamics tells us that this energy must be radiated away as heat in the mid-infrared wavelengths. This same basic physics causes your computer to radiate heat while it is turned on,” explained Wright.
The hypothesis: We Can Detect Advanced Civilizations By Their Energy Emissions, was first proposed in the 1960s by theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, but it’s only recently that we’ve had technology to help us do this. To search for these heat signatures, Wright and his team scoured nearly the entire catalogue of the WISE satellite’s detections – almost 100 million entries – for any sign of galaxies emitting more mid-infrared radiation than expected.
The most promising 100,000 candidates were then individually studied. While 50 of these galaxies did emit high levels of mid-infrared radiation, the numbers didn’t suggest any kind of alien civilisation. But the researchers will follow up with further observations.
They are almost certainly natural astronomical phenomena, but we need to study them more carefully before we can say for sure exactly what’s going on,” said Steinn Sigurdsson, one of the researchers, in the release.
This is the first time that such an extensive search of galaxies’ heat emissions has been conducted, and it provides new insight into the galaxies in our Universe, and also suggests that alien civilisations may not be out there – or may not look and act the way we expect them to.
Via Science Alert